Santana hurt by hard foul into Indians dugout
CLEVELAND -- Francisco Lindor felt helpless as he crouched in foul territory. The Indians shortstop kept his eyes fixed on the third-base dugout, where a pair of team athletic trainers tended to Carlos Santana after a foul ball off Lindor's bat struck Santana on the right side of the head.
It was an unsettling moment within a game that had been overwhelmingly positive. In the fifth inning of Thursday's 14-4 rout of the Angels, Lindor's fouled liner into the Cleveland dugout knocked Santana off an elevated bench, sending him tumbling to the dugout steps. The designated hitter sustained a contusion and was feeling better as the night wore on, according to manager Terry Francona.
"By the time he left, he was really rallying," Francona said. "The good part of it was that, as hard as he got hit and as bad as it looked, for him to -- half-hour later -- to start to feel better really kind of made everybody feel better."
That included Lindor, who said he retreated to the clubhouse between each inning to check on Santana. When a rain delay struck in the middle of the seventh inning, the shortstop finally saw the DH and had the opportunity to chat with him. Santana, as he indicated to the team's medical staff, relayed to Lindor that he was on the mend and, hopefully, had avoided a concussion.
"He seemed like he was doing OK," Lindor said. "I felt relief."
After Santana was helped to the clubhouse by team athletic trainers, he went through a series of concussion tests, as part of Major League Baseball's protocol. Francona said Santana appeared to be fine, but added the team would continue to evaluate the DH on Friday. If there are any lingering symptoms, a trip to MLB's seven-day concussion list could be in order.
Santana was sent home to rest before the conclusion of Thursday's game.
"He's actually doing much better," Francona said. "We'll check him in the morning, because if there's any concussion symptoms, you have to err on the side of caution. I don't think Carlos thinks he has one, and he's had a few before. We'll monitor him in the morning."
Losing Santana for any amount of time would be a tough break for first-place Cleveland, which increased its lead over the Tigers in the American League Central to four games with the win. The switch-hitting DH and part-time first baseman has bounced between leading off and hitting in the middle of the lineup, providing power and patience from both spots.
In the first inning against the Angels, Santana answered Mike Trout's solo homer in the top half of the frame with a leadoff blast off Jhoulys Chacín. The shot into the right-field seats was Santana's 25th home run of the season and his fifth of the year to lead off a game. It helped set the tone for the Indians, who went on to score five in the first and had a 10-2 lead by the fourth.
"You know you have nine innings to go," Francona said. "But it's nice to come back and play even, and then we kind of jumped on them and stayed on them, which is good."
Santana's game-opening blast put him alongside Grady Sizemore (seven in 2008), Kenny Lofton (five in 1999) and Shin-Soo Choo (five in 2012) as the only players in team history with at least five leadoff homers in a season. Through 111 games this year, Santana has hit .242 with 46 extra-base hits, 62 RBIs, 62 walks and 61 runs.
Indians starter Corey Kluber said Santana's injury was an unnerving moment for everyone in the dugout.
"It's obviously scary," Kluber said. "Your first thought is to how he's doing, and I'm sure for Frankie, it's tough to continue that at-bat and stuff. I mean, I guess, it's a bad situation the way those benches are, leaving guys kind of vulnerable. But I guess it's just a reminder to always be watching."
At the time that Lindor lined the 1-1 pitch from lefty Brett Oberholtzer into the dugout, Santana was watching the game from an elevated bench near the railing. There is a short fence in front of the benches in that section of the dugout, but the players are exposed from the shoulders up while seated.
Lindor said he "knew right away" that Santana had been hit by the foul ball.
"I feel terrible," Lindor said. "Obviously I'm not trying to do that. It's a moment you don't want. Nobody wants something like that. I feel bad. I couldn't get my mind off it. ... Hopefully, he doesn't miss any games. Maybe tomorrow and that's it."